Roleplay Research Retreat

Obidos Portugal 24-28 July 2023


The Roleplay Research Retreat (R3) is a research-based event exploring how games and their mechanics can contribute to facets of collaborative storytelling, emergent narrative and the mythos/historical events that emerge within the player group. This retreat aims to address the gap between research and practice, looking at the ways in which academics can apply their tools to the discussion, development (e.g. via asset creation), and evaluation of role-playing games. This includes but is not limited to tabletop RPGs, technology-enhanced RPGs, boardgame renditions of RPGs, and storygames.

The Roleplay Research Retreat follows successful academic retreats such as Dagstuhl and Shonan, where an intense period of collaboration is interspersed with social events and networking. In R3 in particular, however, the number of participants is limited in order to enable more applied research by testing different RPG systems and approaches in-between theoretical discussions during the days of the retreat. The outcome is expected to be a number of reports and publications along these directions.


Phil Lopes is an Assistant Professor at Lusófona University, his focus lies at the crossroads of Digital Game AI, Affective Computing, Human Computer Interfaces, Virtual Cinematic Productions and Game Design. He has published in fields such as affective computing, procedural content generation and game artificial intelligence. More recently, his research has shifted towards exploring the influence of collaborative storytelling and its influence on player experience and creativity, for the construction of transdisciplinary systems capable of leveraging collaborative creativity using playful game mechanics for fields beyond entertainment.

David Melhart is a postdoctoral AI Researcher at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta and a Senior Platform Engineer at His research specializes in User Research, Player Modelling, and Annotation Tools for Affective Computing. David earned his PhD in AI and Games Research at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta in 2021. He was the Communication Chair of FDG 2020, Workshop and Panels Chair of FDG2023, has been a recurring Organizer and Publicity Chair of the Summer School series on Artificial Intelligence and Games (2018-2023), and currently serves as an Editorial Assistant to the IEEE Transactions on Games. His interests in RPG research are focsed on Player Experience Research, and Game Design.

Antonios Liapis is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta. His research focuses on Artificial Intelligence in Games, Human-Computer Interaction, Computational Creativity, and User Modeling. He has published over 130 papers in the aforementioned fields, has served as general chair in four international conferences and has co-organized 12 workshops. In terms of RPG research, he is interested in the evaluation of RPG experiences, in development practices in RPGs and how AI could assist them, and in the way the extended family of tabletop RPGs facilitates collaborative storytelling.


The first event of the R3 is taking place in Obidos, Portugal on 24-28 July, with the support of the Municipality of Obidos and the Lusófona University. The mediaeval town of Obidos is one of the most picturesque and well preserved in Portugal. Highlights include the well preserved castle within the walls, the maze of streets and white houses perfect for a stroll, and the crystal waters of the Foz do Arelho beach in the northern part of the lagoon that crosses into the Atlantic Ocean.

This inaugural event will help flesh out the goals and modus operandi of the retreat, and serve as a roadmap for promising research directions in this area.


External Resources


This project is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme EPIC-WE project under grant agreement No 101095058.